An oligarchy is a power structure that allows a few businesses, families, or individuals to rule. Those few ruling members have enough power to create policies that benefit them to the exclusion of the rest of society. The larger and more complicated the organization becomes, the more advantages the oligarchs gain.
Oligarchs only associate with others who share those same traits. They become an organized minority, while average citizens remain an unorganized majority. The oligarchs groom proteges who share their values and goals.
In a 2015 interview, former President Jimmy Carter stated that the United States is now “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” due to the Citizens United v. FEC ruling which effectively removed limits on donations to political candidates.
Wall Street spent a record $2 billion trying to influence the 2016 United States presidential election. French economist Thomas Piketty states in his 2013 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that “the risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed.” Fast forward eight years and we can see that Piketty was right.
The modern United States is an Oligarchy because economic elites and organized groups representing special interests have total control over U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. Who are these people?
A few of these American oligarchs are Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Tom Steyer, the Kochs, the Waltons, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Paul Singer, George Soros, Art Pope, Sheldon Adelson, Penny Pritzker, Pierre and Pamela Omidyar, and Rupert Murdoch. These oligarchs use their money and power to buy Congress and the Presidency and thereby initiate policies that benefit them. They come from every political corner, and they all use personal wealth to enhance their political clout.
Whether these Oligarchs serve left or right-leaning causes does not matter. The founders determined that America was to be a “Government of the people, by the people, for the people,” not a government determined by the wealth and power of the few, regardless of the polices they pursue.
As voters and citizens, staying informed is no longer enough. Even the most informed voters with no money, power, or access to those who make laws and determine the direction of the country, can effect change just by being informed. Voters must now stay informed as well as taking action. Money buys access to power, here, there, and everywhere. If we are to keep our country and our freedom, money, power, and access by the few, must be eliminated from our government.